By WILLIAM GRIMES
As John Glenn was orbiting the earth for the first time, his fellow Americans were deep into the long-lived craze known as tiki. This gaudy life-style package -- a blend of Polynesian kitsch, fake island food and lethal rum drinks -- began in the late 1930's and early 40's with Los Angeles restaurants like Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic's, and gradually spread to the suburban patio before fizzling out in the early 1970's.
It's back, of course. Jeff Berry and Annene Kaye, serious students of tiki, have compiled a serious tiki cocktail book, "Beachbum Berry's Grog Log."
In 96 spiral-bound pages adorned with tiki illustrations, the authors have ranged far and wide to gather classic Polynesian fakes, like the Fog Cutter from Trader Vic's, the Missionary's Downfall from Don the Beachcomber and the Sidewinder's Fang from the Lanai Restaurant in San Mateo, Calif. They have even managed to unearth Manhattan tiki cocktails, like the Hawaiian Room, served at the old Hotel Lexington in the 1940's, and the Headhunter, served at the Hawaii Kai in the 1960's.
The authors have also come up with their own tiki-inspired originals, like Hell in the Pacific (151-proof Demerara rum, lime juice, maraschino liqueur and grenadine), and the Waikikian (light Puerto Rican Rum, dark Jamaican rum, lemon juice, curaao and orgeat syrup).
It's no longer possible to eat Tonga Tabu Native Drum Steak, which was a featured menu item at the now-defunct Islander in Beverly Hills ("from the ovens of the ancient goddess of Bora Bora, Pele, Mistress of Flame"), but you can shake up a Shark's Tooth or a Shrunken Skull.
As Mr. Berry and Ms. Kaye see it, they are giving the country the perfect drink book for the age of malaise. "If we're going to feel like zombies," they write in their preface, "we may as well be drinking them." END -- Publisher Comments